(NewsNation) — Coast Guard crews in Florida have stopped and sent back more than 5,000 Cubans since October. In 2021, that number was roughly 800.
New pictures posted by the U.S. Coast Guard show makeshift boats stopped in the waters near the Florida Keys this week.
The Coast Guard said 90 Cubans were sent back Friday and another 82 on Monday.
Cubans have been migrating to the U.S. in larger numbers for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic paired with U.S. sanctions against Cuba worsened the nation’s poverty and pushed more people to the U.S., the New York Times reported.
The impact within the U.S. has some local officials concerned.
“This is really a micro event compared to the southwest border, which is a micro event,” said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “But for us, a small rural county, limited resources — this is a big deal.”
Monroe County, along with Customs and Border Protection, have received added support from state officials, the Coast Guard and the Florida National Guard. Each aims to stop the migrants before they make it to the Florida shores.
The support is temporary and set to expire in about 60 days.
“We’re concerned… we know that end of 60 days all these assets are gonna be gone,” Ramsay said. “If I was them, I would wait until the end of 60 days.”
State officials in Florida have called for more help from the federal government.
“Because the Coast Guard are stretched so thin and what the Coast Guard has told us is that we are not going to get additional resources from the Federal Government,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Jan. 12. “This is what we have. So we’re basically filling gaps.”
The Biden administration this week announced Cubans and Haitians who make it to the U.S. by boat won’t be eligible for parole and will be placed in removal proceedings.
In the Florida Keys this week, Sen. Rick Scott called it a short-term solution.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “As you know, the situation in Cuba is bad. I mean their economy is horrible. I think the impression still in Latin America is our border is completely open so we’ll see what impact it has.”
The majority of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border come from impoverished countries in South America and the Caribbean Islands, driven by poverty and political instability.